Boing Boing 

Why we're still talking about Terminator and the Matrix


My July 2015 Locus column, Skynet Ascendant, suggests that the enduring popularity of images of homicidal, humanity-hating AIs has more to do with our present-day politics than computer science.

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Teaching image-recognition algorithms to produce nightmarish hellscapes


In "Inceptionism," scientists at Google Research describe their work training neural nets with sets of images, then tweaking the "layers" of neural net nodes to produce weird outcomes.

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Your voice-to-text speech is recorded and sent to strangers


Redditor Fallenmyst just started a job at Walk N'talk Technologies, where she listens to randomly sampled speech-to-text recordings from our mobile phones, correcting machine conversions.

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Oh, super! Mario is slowly becoming self-aware via AI

A front-runner for People’s Choice Award at this year's AI Video Competition is Mario Lives! The University of Tübingen project is working to make video game character Mario self-aware. He's not there yet, but they are taking tiny steps.

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WATCH: 'Ex Machina' examines love and exploitation in the age of AI

Next Friday, January 23, Alex Garland's highly-anticipated directorial debut Ex Machina opens in the UK, with a US release scheduled for April.

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Driving a legobot with a simulated worm nervous-system

More news from the Openworm project, whose Kickstarter I posted in April: they've sequenced the connectome of all 302 neurons in a C. Elegans worm, simulated them in software, and put them to work driving a Lego robot.

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Mercilessly pricking the bubbles of AI, Big Data, machine learning


Michael I Jordan is an extremely accomplished computer scientist who is also deeply skeptical of claims made by Big Data advocates as well as people who believe that machine intelligence, AI and machine vision are solved, or nearly so.

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How AIs are rewriting photographic history


If you send your holiday photos to Google's Autoawesome processor, it will snip out the best smiles and poses and combine them to make pictures of scenes that never actually happened.

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Great ideas that changed the world, and the people they rode in on

To inaugurate the publication of his brilliant new book How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World (also a PBS/BBC TV series), Steven Johnson has written about the difficult balance between reporting on the history of world-changing ideas and the inventors credited with their creation

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Factbot: a bot that spouts viralish, truth-sounding lies


Shardcore, who gave us the programatically generated Hipsterbait tees, had advanced the art of autonomous, self-perpetuating Internet memes, with @factbot1, a bot that creates true-sounding, viral-ish lies ("Indonesians always turn left when exiting a cave", "In just one drop of Sesame seeds, 50 million bacteria can be present", "Morels were used as a Sesame seeds substitute during the Norwegian Civil War"). Here's an essay that explains the project:

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Chatbot attains milestone at annual Turing Test competition


Eugene Goostman, a program simulating a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, has attained a 33% success rate at the annual RSA Turing Test competition, meaning that a third of the judges were fooled into thinking that the chatbot was actually a human being. Alan Turing's iconic test was meant to cut through the existentialist crisis in artificial intelligence about what was or wasn't "intelligence" by proposing that if a human being could not distinguish between a person and code in a blind test, the code was intelligent by human standards.

The Goostman bot enjoyed the advantage of simulating someone whose first language wasn't English, and whose apparent young age could explain a lack of nuanced reasoning and basic knowledge, so you could think of this as kind of a cheat, but it's still a very impressive feat.

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Expiration Day: YA coming of age novel about robots and the end of the human race


Expiration Day is William Campbell Powell's debut YA novel, and it's an exciting start. The novel is set in a world in which human fertility has collapsed, taking the birth-rate virtually to zero, sparking riots and even a limited nuclear war as the human race realizes that it may be in its last days. Order is restored, but at the price of basic civil liberties. There's a little bit of Orwell (a heavily surveilled and censored Internet); but mostly, it's all about the Huxley. The major locus of control is a line of robotic children -- all but indistinguishable from flesh-and-bloods, even to themselves -- who are sold to desperate couples as surrogates for the children they can't have, calming the existential panic and creating a surface veneer of normalcy.

Expiration Day takes the form of a private diary of Tania, an 11 year old vicar's daughter in a small village outside of London. Tania's father's parishioners have found religion, searching for meaning in their dying world. He is counsellor and father-figure to them, though the family is still relatively poor. Tania is a young girl growing up in the midst of a new, catastrophic normal, the only normal she's ever known, and she's happy enough in it. But them she discovers that she, too, is a robot, and has to come to grips with the fact that her "parents" have been lying to her all her life. What's more, the fact that she's a robot means that she won't live past 18: all robots are property of a private corporation, and are merely leased to their "parents," and are recalled around their 18th birthday, turned into scrap.

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Army won't answer Freedom of Information Request on its SGT STAR AI chatbot

Dave from the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes, "Seven years ago, the U.S. Army launched the SGT STAR program, which uses a virtual recruiter (an AI chatbot) to talk to potential soldiers. We put in a FOIA request for a bunch of documents related to the program, including current and historical input/output scripts. So far, the Army Research and Marketing Group--which is supposed to help with transparency--hasn't responded."

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Video: uncanny 3D faces show "parametric expressions"

It's watching us, and this is what it sees. Mike Pelletier explores quantified emotions in software, in collaboration with Subbacultcha! and Pllant / Marieke van Helden [Video Link]

Software-authored book of conversation-starters


JanusNode sez, "Janusnode is 'a user-configurable dynamic textual projective surface,' AKA a programmable text generating application. It has released a book entitled 'You can bring an elephant to a Broadway show, but you cannot make it drink Chablis: 365 computer-generated excuses to converse', self-published (copyright-free) through Lulu.com. As the title suggests, the book consists of 365 automatically-generated (but human-curated) topics for discussion, ranging from the bizarre to the profound. The rule set for generating the discussion topics ships with JanusNode (among many other rule sets), which is free from JanusNode.com, so you can also generate and choose your own discussion topics if you don't want to spring for the printed pre-curated set."

You can bring an elephant to a Broadway show, but you cannot make it drink Chablis: 365 computer-generated excuses to converse (Thanks, JanusNode!)

Why a grand, unified theory of artificial intelligence may be a pipe dream

A computer scientist and a psychology professor analyze Entropica — the artificial intelligence system that's been getting major buzz in the blogosphere. Quick version: It's a good idea, but it underestimates the complexity of the real world. Sure, you could create an AI that can play chess, but that same bot won't necessarily have the skills it needs to also be capable of understanding grammar and sentence structure.

What Google's self-driving car sees

Charlie Warzel: "THIS is what google's self driving car can see. So basically this thing is going to destroy us all." [via Matt Buchanan]